Skip to main content

tv   Panel Discussion on the Civil Rights Movement  CSPAN  April 6, 2014 3:30am-4:21am EDT

3:30 am
state policies are sometimes more advanced and more protective than other states. so it has been problematic in our environmental policy because the geological cycle is combined as well as error. >> don't lose sight of the fact that the susquehanna river has been poisonous for a long time. it used to be just up running off my farm. >> most of the dead zones are attributed to upstate new york and pennsylvania. >> upstate new york. i agree with that. [laughter] >> we have one question and we have one minute. >> my question is just a basic one of what is a drill site and what does it look like.
3:31 am
can you tell us they realistically are like and how long a site is active or on a. >> slide 12 also has as well. >> while you are looking for that, my mother grew up there and is from scranton. back then they used a turnaround and pile up the refuse from coal. so if you look at our drill patterns, my mother refers to it as this dumb. there's no question that it was disruptive or there is no question that there were a lot of trucks. and there's also no question that one of the largest environmental problems we have
3:32 am
is the amount of diesel that is used in this entire process and that is another talk entirely. but it's also very important to bear in mind that you cannot turn around and look at a snapshot from anyone moment of time and say that this is wyoming county. i live in northeastern pennsylvania and i can walk 27 miles from the back of my house to the back of the house of gifford pinchot and not cross a major road. another thing i won't cross is a tree that would be older than my father. that whole area has been clear cut three times. over the last 200 years. my friends come up and i think i live in the forest. and when it is is it's not the same force that it used to be. so you need to always do this
3:33 am
everywhere for a good two weeks and there's going to be thousands of them. >> many of these things you can't see them at any given point in time. and if you can see is what is happening under the surface as well. so it's hard to get a good visual based on this. >> that is it. i have to call the time. we're going to go next door and i encourage you to come on in. buy the books, have them sign the books.
3:34 am
[inaudible >> now from the annapolis book festival, a discussion about the civil rights movement with dave chapelle, and juan williams. >> thank you all for coming to our panel and the civil rights movement. i'm the chair of the humanities department here in at the school. i would like to ask you all sign out of any cell phones are and electronic devices of the panel isn't disrupted. i would like to start by acknowledging yesterday was the 46th anniversary of the estimation of martin luther king. if we could all just take a brief moment of silence in his honor. thank you. and they have an interesting array of oaks represented here. a kind of chronology of the silver rights movement. so i will introduce them in the
3:35 am
order of the periods that they cover. .. "an idea whose time has come" looks at the political battles involved in passing the civil rights act, 50 years ago this summer and regarded as one of the most significant legislative achievements of the moment. todd burnham spent years at the white house as diplomatic correspondent dan los angeles
3:36 am
bureau chief, now national editor of vanity fair. and david ship hell's "waking from the dream" tracks the history of the movement since the death of dr. king. david chappell is professor of modern american history, taught in arkansas, russia and upstate new york. washington d.c. and policy work, in addition to "waking from the dream" he has written inside is of the civil rights movement and prophetic religion in the death of jim crow. he has written numerous articles and essays so our format today i will start by asking a few questions for panelists to discuss and then we will switch to audience questions. please go to the microphone in the middle. it 3:15 we will move to the activity building for the book
3:37 am
signing. all the panelists could address, it is drawn from law quote in his book. in "eyes on the prize" charles houston, an early civil rights lawyer said lawsuits mean little unless supported by public opinion and baffling problem is how to create the proper kind of public opinion. to extend the goal of the movement is about shaping public opinion, or legislative and judicial appearance? >> they are tied together in some critical ways. it is the predicate for legislative change, social change, public opinion shift in your favor. i can think of two wonderful examples, everyone would be familiar with the letter from the birmingham jail by dr. king
3:38 am
which is not only briton for the new york times also a pamphlet by christian groups, civil rights groups with the intent of changing public perception about the urgency or the need of civil rights protests and civil rights revolution in the country. did these people are agitators', they don't understand how difficult it is to change this culture, why do they foment these confrontations that lead to violence. so with king in much the way of any pamphleteer throughout history sort of nailing his letter to the church door and appealing to for a shift in the way americans thought about race and it would prove highly
3:39 am
effective. the second example i would cite to you quickly comes from experience i recently had. it is in "eyes on the prize" but i went through an experience recently where a group of congressmen and women went south, 50 years, next year will be 50 years after the freedom ride and all that, and after freedom summit, went to mississippi, and one of the places we went to visit was the home of fannie lou hamer, and may not been known to most of view but she was one of the leaders of the mississippi freedom democratic party and what they're trying to do was dislodge the segregationist all white mississippi democratic
3:40 am
party from their seats at the 1964 atlantic city convention being held by the democrats to nominate lbj. in the course of this, one of the critical moments is when she testified before the credentials committee and this was on national tv in and you had this woman without much education, a generation to testify about being beaten by people who simply didn't want her to register to vote and asking what kind of democratic party is this? what kind of country is this? is this america? it was so powerful the president of the united states decided it was going to upset his chances for peaceful nomination. he immediately called a press conference at the white house to get the networks to shift their coverage away from fannie lou
3:41 am
hamer and to him and was successful. i cite it as evidence of a power of narrative, of presentation, as critical to shifting public opinion in advance of shifting of the legislative agenda. >> it is both. i think that every scholar working on it today would emphasize some aspect of public opinion. the consensus, the orthodoxy really is social change comes from the grass roots, from the bottom up and legislation, responses from the national stage i response to what bruce at the grassroots level. like most orthodoxy, most
3:42 am
conventional wisdom is on oversimplification. public opinion tended to mean northern white affluent opinion, the opinion of the new york times, the opinion of the washington post, the opinion of cbs news, etc. the conscience of the nation usually meant people in positions of power and influence. i didn't amine majority opinion in southern states obviously it aspired to me the majority opinion and congress was pressured. it is also the case and i think there are many illustrations in the history of the civil rights movement in its golden age kong crew went with king's wife as well as later and earlier, plenty of instances where a dedicated prophetic minority stands up to take a stand and
3:43 am
shifts public opinion. the most obvious example something juan williams has written about, the legal defense fund, thurgood marshall and other brilliant visionary legal strategists who steered the supreme court into a really radical change before public opinion, especially was anywhere near prepared for it. martin luther king at one point said we want hearts and minds to change, a broader deeper conception of public opinion. that is ultimately what we are aiming for but we will take structural legal change today if that is what we can get and we trust that hearts and minds will follow. he reversed the old orthodox equations of conservative social
3:44 am
scientists like william graham sumner who said you can't use the state to change deeply rooted traditions. and dr. king said that is just wrong. if you change the state, if you change the law people will follow and that is often the way they approached it and it is fair to say that is often the way they won. >> that is true. by the case of the 1964 civil rights act which the jobless to finish what the civil war had supposedly finished a hundred years before, there are two elements in which public opinion plate huge role, the syrian demonstrations in birmingham in 1963 at a time dr. king was sent to jail and wrote his famous letter, police dogs and fire hoses, not young people to the ground, tour their clothes off and spread horrifying images all over the country that paul, john
3:45 am
kennedy in particular, left him no choice but couple months later to propose since reconstruction. as a part of the grass-roots lobbying effort for that bill, a huge bipartisan biracial coalition came about involving a lot of faith community. all around the country. this was a lobbying effort that had never been seen on anything like this scale before and the group led by the national council of churches and others made a particular strategic decision to focus their efforts on the midwestern congressman and senators and those from the great plains states who did not have large black constituencies liberal constituencies and for whom civil rights would not naturally be a political issue but have plenty of methodists and presbyterians and baptists and jews in their constituency who would be susceptible to a moral appeal from the pulpit and it was president kennedy's decision to frame it in the
3:46 am
speech in which he proposed the bill as a moral issue as old as the scriptures and as clear as the constitution and the watchword of the proponents of the bill throughout its debate was doing to others as you have them do unto you. it was deeply rooted in the golden rule and the best time to leave -- live up to our increase. >> i wonder if you could talk about the methods of the movement. what you see as having worked and what didn't work and perhaps what lessons we can draw from today, people who want to bring social change. >> the most important matter that needs clearing up is non-violence. it was often ridiculed and derided by people who thought of themselves as more radical in the 1950s and 60s as a passive hat in hand way of begging,
3:47 am
supplicating for favor from those who had power. i think the lesson that dr. king and fannie lou hamer and many others who risked their lives and learned the lessons they today in the struggle, for minority group, 12%, 13% of the national population, non-violence was a very practical choice, resort to arms, resort to arms struggle which was the choice of former gone the ins in contemporary self africa, nelson mandela embraced on struggle where there's a majority population. king and others in their hearts and souls embraced non-violence as they simplistically put it as a way of life but even that had a strategic dimension. byron rustin in talking to dr.
3:48 am
king in to nonviolent discipline, getting rid of the gun that he kept in his house convinced him that you have got to be more rigorous about your non-violence in order to keep the non-violent fairweather allies and activists, if they see you waiver on nonviolent discipline and discipline is the issue then they will discipline will break down and we will lose. for a minority to leverage to powers outgunned, outspent and outvoted in the southern states they have to use clever tactics, jujitsu was one of the leading gondi and strategists popular in the united states referred to it as using the strength of your adversaries against them. it was a coercive strategy and
3:49 am
later ron militant people who still have a great deal of influence in academic understanding of what happened in those days claimed that dr. king and some of his allies preached that if some crook or mass murderer broke into your house and threatened your families that dr. king would have you just sit there passively and let it happen without your raising a hand, that nothing could be further from the truth. dr. king never said anything like that. non-violence was a political strategy, economic strategy of coercion for mobilizing masses of people in the streets which had nothing to do with defense. it was ironic the black panther party, verbally embracing a rejection of non-violence, verbally embracing violence, very rarely actually practicing it, focused on this issue of
3:50 am
defense. the strategy of the civil rights movement was aggressive. and was an offensive strategy. wasn't about defending your home or your property but staking acclaim for new political and economic victories for forcing concessions from a powerful majority against the will of that powerful majority. we have to understand the context of the choice of nonviolent strategy, how it worked, there were people who were moral purists about non-violence and they're very important and they deserve tremendous amount of respect because they were risking their lives for principle but they never expected and never said they expected that the majority of people in the movement, the troops marching with them for political victories would have to embrace the moral purity.
3:51 am
they sold it to the masses as a political strategy because the alternatives would have been suicidal and they demonstrated time and time again that worked. it did extract concessions beginning with the montgomery boycott in 1955-56. >> the strategies of the movement were manifold and played on top of each other. the naacp undertook years of strategic legal campaign bringing suit successively against various institutions and they felt would be susceptible, first to law schools and public schools eventually and trying to get the courts to back this change whether or not legislature was ready to do it but intense internal divisions in the movement, the naacp and roy wilkens, and direct action and in fact were bitter about his whole organization because they felt it was usurping what they felt their role as the
3:52 am
largest civil rights organization in the country, it was in the end the patient series of lawsuits financed by the naacp that broke the montgomery bus boycott after dr. king show on a moral spotlight on it but it also bore fruit and we see the legislation in 1964 is really the movement's the ability to appeal across the aisle to republicans and also across the racial divide to appeal to white people to prepare conference, to make them in the end willingly surrender some of their power in the name of a greater moral good and there were at that time a hardening number of white politicians, particularly republican politicians who were willing to take a political risk of their own and do that and that i think wasn't just one pronged, it was the way it did
3:53 am
in the era of consensus before the consensus began was that there were multiple strategies, not just one approach. >> it is important to understand first of all from what dave and todd told you, important divide within the movement you had. one side the activist and on the other side this legal strategy being pursued from the time of someone who was a player in annapolis, thurgood marshall and you have thurgood marshall understanding, operating on the principles that if you can change the law you can begin to change the society. at the same time you have activists like dr. king operating on the appeal to conscience. in large part christian conscience that if you believe truly in god that we are all
3:54 am
god's children and would require you to have a different view of people who are of a different race and be more inclusive. i would add to that divide the idea that if you think about strategy what comes to mind is supreme court justice hearings thurgood marshall lawyer argue, said to him if only the native americans had a thurgood marshall we could make much more progress. what you have seen subsequent, and they might knows this better than i can tell you, over the course of the years after 64-65, the civil rights act todd has described, that incredible achievement, what you see is other groups, hispanic americans, of women, you see it in terms of the disabled.
3:55 am
everybody pursuing basically that strategy of change through the courts, through judicial ruling that say they have rights in this country. and parts of that line of strategy is also getting back to the first question to shift public opinion and to do so through activism whether it is disabled people blocking the entry to a building or people complaining as we saw with cesar chavez and this movie that is out now working for the rights of migrant laborers but doing so in line with the strategic successful strategic naacp , as well as dr. king. >> may i adjust -- emphasize or clarify something todd said. in the montgomery boycott there
3:56 am
were two victories. there was this important legal victory in washington d.c. which coincided with the timing of the end of a long siege of grassroots activists led by dr. king and rosa parks and others in montgomery but there was also a year's struggle where the bus company and the city government, the power structure as a loosely called it, felt defeated and demoralized and the bus company lost money and a whole host of local changes took place. it is a nice coincidence where you can't neatly isolate the strategy that led to the victory but i think we would agree both of them are really important and simultaneously working there. >> there was an exchange between roy wilkens and martin luther king in 1963 when wilkens said to have my would like to know martin. just what you have desegregated
3:57 am
in your life. dr. king said i guess nothing more than the few human hearts. one of the human heart the act on materially was john f. kennedy's and that made all the difference. >> john kennedy taking the stance to define a in on national tv civil rights as a moral issue, we won't do it just because it is good strategy or because we are forced to do it but because it is right. that night they shot medgar evers in the back because they understood the climate, the whole issue had changed. when it became a moral issue for the president of the united states who was dragged kicking and screaming into civil rights it is like slavery becoming a moral issue. not just an issue of policy but they recognized this ultimately meant war. >> this reminded me that early on, thurgood marshall had no
3:58 am
sense of who dr. king was. who is this preacher down south? as late as the 1960s the naacp is worried about him and lax collection of money, taking money out of their coffers etcetera but the strategic difference is such that thurgood marshall is of the opinion that dr. king is a great speaker. he is a wonderful speaker. he can change hearts and do this and do that. you walk away from a king speech and are so enthused you go back to segregated neighborhoods, segregated schools, back to racial inequality on the work site and the only place you make concrete change is if you change the law in terms of congress and the courts. >> thanks. all three of your books address in addition to dr. king
3:59 am
lesser-known figures. i wonder if you could choose a story you think people should know more about and share it with the audience. >> we talked about this. >> your time, your book. >> i will take one and leave the baltimoree n for you. what i would single out is the conservative republican congressman from west central ohio named william mccullough was the ranking republican member of the house judiciary committee and was a conservative, he was against gun control, against foreign aid, and his home town was represented by john boehner. he was descended from abolitionists and was a passionate believer in civil rights and he was appalled and 1957-1960 that lyndon johnson as senate majority leader water down the civil rights bill in those years so when president kennedy proposed a comprehensive bill in 63, he made a deal with the administration. he said if you promise not to water this down in the senate
4:00 am
and trade it away, give the republicans equal credit going into next year's election and defuse it as a political issue then i will back you all the way and bring the republican caucus along and the respect for him in the house was such that the entire republican leadership was bound to follow him and that is what happened and because of his insistence on this strategy, the kennedy administration and johnson administration was forced to do something that had never before succeeded which was to break a filibuster over civil rights in the senate and that too in 1964 is what happened and when she learned he was retiring in 1971 after a bad fall jacqueline kennedy onassis wrote a remarkable three page handwritten letter from the yacht christina and told him she knew that he more than any other single person in congress was responsible for these bills and in the last weeks of her husband's life he had taken great consolation from the fact that mccullough could have easily sabotaged the bill
4:01 am
without seeming to do so, could have betrayed his pledge but he had not a she began by saying please forgive the emotional tone of this letter but i want you to know what you mean to me and last night we had a book event at politics and prose and his elder daughter nancy who is nearly 90 came and was great to see her and it is a remarkable story that deserve to be remembered. >> not only does it deserve to be remembered, i would think it has a chastening effect on the current capital hill about the idea of showing personal courage in the face of instead of saying gosh, i might face a primary challenge from someone more conservative than i am. >> i have got quite a bit in my book about correcting but i will yield to that temptation to talk about an obscure conservative
4:02 am
republican from role ohio who also figures prominently in my story. he did his best to redeem the ohio republican caucus from the way word steps of the cuts in -- mcpatchin. his name was john ashbrook. he was a member of the john birch society and was pretty obscure. he made a career out of hating martin luther king and heaping scorn upon him. he was present, he was elected to congress in nearly 60s and always filing of these link the reports based on innuendo and character assassination and guilt by association. all of the mccarthy tactics.
4:03 am
he had his hearing not only before dr. king was shot but interestingly after dr. king was shot he was all over the pages of the congressional record saying bad things, interesting stuff. the most king opponents, not all of whom were republicans and not all of whom were conservatives really kept their mouths shut on the floor of congress and elsewhere with some interesting exceptions. but bashis broken to need to go after king and stayed in congress until 1982, through most of the debate on the martin luther king holiday, the national holiday that was finally enacted after a four year struggle led by coretta king with some help from steve wonder and a host of characters
4:04 am
who are traced in my story. but-brook kept dishing out this old conspiratorial king consorted with communists stuff, denouncing king as a figure worthy of elevating to a position of national hero recognizing on the level of full guaranteed day off as officials federal policy to educate this man to the level of george washington and christopher columbus and jesus of nazareth, was horrifying to this guy and he tried to convince his colleagues in congress there were only two people who oppose the king holiday and took that strategy and opposing his character. things had changed by the 70s and 80s. there was larry mcdonald from
4:05 am
suburban atlanta, georgia who was a democrat and a member of the john birch society continued to denounce king as a communist. finally there was jesse helms from north carolina who stayed out of the king holiday battle at least, floor of congress until the end when he stole the headlines by squaring off against ted kennedy and saying the only reason we know king was a communist was because ted kennedy's brothers ordered surveillance on him because that is what they believe that he ended up getting a tobacco deal and backing down which people suggested was his motive all along. ..
4:06 am
>> bob dole and others pulled reagan to a pretty strong support and all along the republicans and others who oppose the king holiday mostly did so on the this is a very boring reasons that did not meet good copy. if it would be expensive very and economic crisis to give the whole nation's workforce another day off. they calculated that that would be quite costly. ill advised as well.
4:07 am
and they said that not enough time had passed for the nation to get enough distance and i had conservatives like strom thurmond landed of voting for the king holiday. and it is established by those who testified with those for the holiday. the very existence shows that not enough has passed for us to get the proper distance for deciding whether this is a person who we really want to angle out more than george washington carver order to the roosevelt or someone else. and it was because mcdonald and finally helms took the position that they did. they made it untenable for
4:08 am
people to oppose the holiday. you just didn't get it loaded in the paper if you talked about the cost and the importance of the passage of time for judging historical significance. we got into the headlines which others gladly quoted and emphasize and reemphasize was with paranoid unseemly unsportsmanlike character assassination tactic. squaring off ted kennedy versus jesse helms i need to all the people, even conservative republicans in many cases would not be associated with that unseemly line. they came over to work the holiday and that is really why we had it in its reproduction of the same type of, which i think isn't nearly about our hearts and minds, but about providing public opinion and isolating the bull connors and the sheriff
4:09 am
hearts in the 1960s and putting people like jesse helms and larry mcdonald and john ashcroft into the spotlight as though they represent but that's i really things that made it untenable for moderates and those but just wanted to maintain their reputations for respect ability purposes to stay on tide that's i we have the martin luther king holiday. >> i think that i want to share this person with todd, which is clarence mitchell who has baltimore roots and everything from the afro-american to so much of the local civil rights movement is headed to that history. including here in annapolis. so i would say one of the joys of being a writer discovering people who we think i've made a difference and have demonstrated
4:10 am
the capacity to create change and to make something out of nothing in terms of gospel poetry. there are so many of them in ice on the prize. right from the start and earlier today we will be discussing charles hamilton houston, who was the dean of the law school, in night school, really is not a very good law school that was inadequately preparing black lawyers school that saw the idea of black lawyers as a central to creating equality in gaining equal rights in the country. one of the young people that he trained was thurgood marshall. a lot of people don't know about charles hamilton houston. he is in my biography and he is
4:11 am
a real hero to me. because he someone who created change over time and change that is still with us today. but there are other people and i just mention this is the 50th anniversary and thinking about people like bob moses, david dennis. there is such an amazing range of people who participated. and again the stories of people who would go into a battleground to try to create change. those are american heroes of the highest calling. but we forget sometimes the courage that they are exhibiting
4:12 am
at the american dream. sometimes we forget people who played a larger role than doctor king. people who have been active in terms of the local naacp working with a woman by the name of joann robinson who was a professor at alabama state to put into place what king ultimately leads. join robinson has a strong and capable mind. you know, she had been involved with getting black and white women together in a women's local council in montgomery in advance and she was the person who had helped rosa parks get to
4:13 am
the highlander school, which was a school that was educating miners and social activists around the country about steps you can take to create change in your community. people think oftentimes as her being this stress who refuse to sit in the back of the bus and she's just so key in that way. and another person that leaps out of my mind is the star of eyes on the prize would be diane nash who is a freshman and here's what's going on with the freedom rides and how one of the buses had been bombed in alabama and she decides i can get a car from somewhere. we're going to drive up there and we're going to get on those buses and when she gets up there, you know, it's just unbelievable.
4:14 am
and has the gall to say oh, no, we need protection and we can get it from this day police and she calls washington and is able to get people at the justice department and embarrassed him into putting pressure to get the national guard to protect those buses so they can complete their travels down to louisiana and into the american history books. that is a college student and so again inspiring beyond words and what we can do as writers and the telling of the tale and if you are ever in a moment of depression and think, gosh, it's so hard to create change, to meet people like bob, these are people that are just unbelievable heroes and heroines in my mind. and finally many of you may know
4:15 am
the name emmett till is a young person who was killed a
4:16 am
4:17 am
4:18 am
4:19 am
4:20 am


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on